Santa Monica, Calif.'s Big Blue Bus announced that 11 new flexible North American Bus Industries (NABI) 60-foot articulated buses will be joining its fleet starting in 2011, allowing the transit agency to add a new level of expanded service to the public.
A provision in the contract allows for the option to purchase an additional 10 buses as funding becomes available in the future, and three of the new buses are being purchased with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds.
The articulated buses will first be introduced on the popular Rapid 7 bus rapid transit (BRT) line, which is one of the agency's busiest routes. The Rapid 3 line will also receive new buses after the initial deployment on Rapid 7 is complete. The new cleaner burning compressed natural gas buses will replace some of the older diesel buses in the fleet, in keeping with the city's commitment to sustainability.
The new NABI articulated models include interior features for maximum comfort and convenience for all passengers, including seniors and those with disabilities. Each bus has 53 seats instead of the usual 40, and runs on clean compressed natural gas, which is 77 percent cleaner burning than diesel fuel.
According to NABI Senior Vice President Joe Gibson, BRT vehicles offer cities a less complicated and more affordable way to implement an efficient, more environmentally friendly transit system in their communities than other solutions.
"NABI's 60-foot BRT vehicle is a rubber-tire solution to light rail," said Gibson. "It offers many of the same amenities and features of rail, but with the flexibility afforded to bus route deployment," he said.
The Big Blue Bus currently operates a fleet of over 200 alternative fueled vehicles, carrying over 20 million passengers a year around a 52-square mile service area of Los Angeles County. The agency, nationally known for its commitment to sustainable transit equipment and technologies, recently opened a new $60 million eco-maintenance facility that includes three dedicated bays to service the new articulated models.
The Big Blue Bus contract with NABI contains provisions enabling the transit agency to purchase additional 60-foot BRT's in subsequent years, in keeping with anticipated expansion of the transit agency's Rapid Blue service.